Imagine my surprise when my lovely wife returned home from an appointment last week with a bag full of the most beautiful asparagus I’d ever seen. Upon further inspection, I noticed that the stalks were enormous, nice and thick and long enough to stretch from the crook of my elbow to the tip of my fingers. Interestingly, the cut ends were wrapped in wet paper towels….these were no ordinary spears bought from a store, but rather cut fresh from a friend’s private stash that very morning (insert hallelujah chorus here).
That night, I roasted then briefly and served them with an orange hollandaise sauce, they were sublime.
Within minutes of finishing our meal I was on the phone to our friend, feeling like a crack starved junkie trying to score some more “stuff”. The game of phone tag that ensued would have landed us both in jail had the authorities been tapping either one of our lines, what with the sly references to her “stash”, and our convoluted plans to arrange for a “drop”, where I could swing by to pick up the goods while she was in a meeting the following day.
Hey, look….it’s been a long winter, alright? I mean, I know these things can’t compare to Black Périgord Truffles in their rarity and value, but I wasn’t willing to screw around and run the chance of having some stranger toddle by at just the wrong time and scam my beloved asparagus. No detail was left to chance!
A fifteen minute drop window was agreed upon, between 10:00-10:15 AM, and when I arrived at the spot, the bag was there, tucked into a shaded nook behind a potted plant just outside her office’s front door. “First few bags are free”, she told me….she’s good, a real pro.
I bet she’s sitting at home by the phone right now, waiting for me to call, waiting to drop the hammer on me, waiting to tell me that the free ride is over, “the next bag is gonna cost you BIG”. 😉
If you should find yourself similarly lucky, and have a local source all too ready to fuel your asparagus addiction, here is a recipe for a light and vibrant asparagus soup that’ll have you mainlining in a flash.
Many thanks to my dealer (you know who you are….)
Party on! – S
- 2 pounds of asparagus
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed, chopped and dried
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 4 ounces of fresh baby spinach leaves, washed well and dried
- 20 fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (1-2 tablespoons)
- kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Wash asparagus, then snap off the woody stems and place them in a large pot with the chicken stock (roughly chop the upper parts of the spears and reserve). Bring stems and stock to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the stems, and set the stock aside.
- In a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the leeks, garlic, and onion, and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent, then add the diced potato and reserved stock, and cook until the potatoes are almost cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Add the reserved chopped asparagus pieces, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and spinach leaves and cook another minute. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the soup from the heat, and working in batches, blend in a mixer or food-processor until very smooth. If using a blender, do not fill more than 1/3 full with the hot soup, as the steam released when the blender is turned on can cause the top to pop off, spraying hot soup everywhere, if you overfill it.
- Pour each batch of soup through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl set over an ice water bath in order to cool the soup quickly. Cooling it quickly will insure that the soup maintains it lovely vibrant green color, and doesn't end up fading to an ugly green-grey. When all the soup is processed and in the bowl, check for seasoning and add fresh lemon juice to taste.
- Enjoy hot, at room temperature, or chilled, dotted or drizzled with a touch of heavy cream if desired.